This article concerns slowing down and thinking twice about divorce, as a way of escaping the pain. When we hurt, our first instinct is to try to stop the pain. Somehow, we try to find ways to stop that, which is hurting us —especially if we feel deeply afflicted. This is a common reaction. But not all exits lead to the escape we are hoping for.
Still, it is tempting. Even King David talked about escaping the pain he was going through. He’s quoted in Psalm 55:6-8 as saying,
“I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings of a dove! If so, I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert. I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.‘”
Escape: Thinking Twice
It sounds tempting at times to escape like this, doesn’t it? In the book, The Walk Out Woman, author Dr Steve Stephens talks about the flee to escape:
“In many ways, difficult emotions can be more painful than a physical injury. Our friend Keely writes, ‘When you are hurting, your heart feels as though it will break into a thousand pieces. Or it feels like it will just stop working altogether.’ Some of the clients I see in my practice say they feel so much pain they wonder if they are going crazy or if they might even die.
“No wonder their first thought is to escape in some way —in any way. Emotions can be so intense that they distort your thinking. They tempt you to consider options that are irrational, unhealthy, or in direct opposition to your core values.”
Missing a Miracle
You may think that you have endured enough. And perhaps you have. I don’t know your life, just like you don’t know mine. I do know however, that there was a time when I didn’t feel like I loved my husband. Never in my imagination, did I think it would be possible that our marriage could be salvaged, let alone get to a good place. But both have happened. I almost jumped into divorce. I was so very close to making that decision. I’m so glad I didn’t. The love my husband Steve and I have for each other is a miracle, no doubt. We almost missed this miracle.
I don’t know if this will happen for you, but I sure didn’t think it could happen for me. And yet, it did. A miracle may be just around the corner, and you just don’t know it.
I can testify first hand, however, that it’s extremely difficult to slow things down from heading into a divorce when things look so bleak.
“This is particularly so when you feel lonely, empty, and incomplete. When that happens you can jump the gun. You can make a choice based on your limited perspective rather than the larger picture that would emerge if only you had sought more information…” (T.D. Jakes)
Temptation to Escape
Author Jennifer Smith writes about the temptation she faced to divorce as a way to escape her troubled marriage:
“I didn’t realize it going into marriage, but I’d brought with me several expectations of what life would be like as husband and wife. When those expectations weren’t met, I crumbled. I cried, yelled, and fought for things to unfold my way and on my timeline. With each expectation that was left unmet, bitterness grew in my heart.
“By year three, I was convinced that our marriage was going to end. Although I didn’t want to experience the devastation of divorce, I justified it by believing my happiness was more important than staying committed to my vows. I daydreamed about life without my husband, and I desired to pursue a future free from hardship.”
You can read more of what Jennifer learned in the Todayschristianwoman.com article:
It’s been said that the depth of your hurt determines the width of your response. And when you’re hurting, escape seems like the most logical response.
It’s been said that the depth of your pain determines the width of your response. And when you’re hurting, escape can seem like the most logical response. But does it really accomplish the end of pain? Or does it exchange one pain for another?
“Some might refer to divorce as ‘getting out and getting on with your life.’ Saying it that way actually makes it sound appealing. After all, divorce, in many cases, seems like the easy way out. Although everyone knows divorce is traumatic, emotionally wearing, and painful, making the decision to just stop trying often looks a whole lot easier than getting back in the ring and continuing to slug it out.
“Staying seems to require a deep well of time and energy. And it requires great personal sacrifice and risk that even Job couldn’t endure. Cutting and running just seems like the only viable alternative. If you’re lucky, maybe your troubles will remain ‘back there’ somewhere. And if you’re really lucky, the divorce will allow you to quit feeling defeated, ashamed, angry, bitter. Even if those negative emotions follow you, they have to be less after leaving than they would be if you stayed. Is that true?” (Dr Tim Clinton, Before A Bad Goodbye: How to Turn Your Marriage Around)
It’s More Complicated
According to Dr Clinton, as he explains later in the book, many, many times, that just isn’t true. Here’s something he wrote to prayerfully consider:
“Most people ending a marriage hope to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children. They hope to find a new love, a more enriching relationship, a more responsive sexual partner, a more supportive companion, a better provider. Failing that, they hope to establish a single life that will provide greater opportunity for self-respect, contentment, and serenity, or at least, less turbulence, intrusiveness, and hurt.
“People want to believe that divorce will relieve all their stresses. We will go back to square one and begin our lives anew. But divorce does not wipe the slate clean. …Few adults anticipate accurately what lies ahead when they decide to divorce. Life is almost always more arduous and more complicated than they expect.” (Judy Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce)
Author Michele Weiner Davis puts it another way,
“In my work, I’ve had a bird’s eye view of what happens in people’s lives after divorce. I have seen the intense pain and despair that linger for years. I have seen times when every birthday, holiday, or other causes for celebration have been nothing more but painful reminders of a divorce. Plus, I have seen the triggering of unpredictable, hurtful events such as the total rejection by the children of the parent seeking the divorce. I have known children who, even many years after the divorce and their parents’ subsequent remarriages, still want to know if Mom and Dad will ever get back together.
“Now, after three decades of our social experiment with rampant divorce and disposable marriages, I know it isn’t a matter of people keeping their marriages together because they can, it’s a matter of people making their marriages work because they should. Divorce stinks!” (From the book The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage)
There are so many studies that show us that the long-term effects of divorce is more devastating than most people realize. It’s not exactly a “stress reliever” or a way of leaving yourself of “troubles” but rather, it is an exchange of one set of troubles for another.
“The idea of living in a loveless marriage starts to feel like a death sentence. Over time, many of these people slowly convince themselves that the benefits of leaving their marriages vastly outweigh the benefits of staying. They tell themselves, ‘Kids are resilient, they’ll bounce back.’ Or they say, ‘In the long run, this will be better for everyone.’ It’s not until they embark on the path to divorce and begin to piece their lives back together that they discover the real price they paid for their so-called ‘freedom.’ Regretfully, this painful discovery comes too late. They have fallen into the divorce trap.” (Michele Weiner Davis, from the book, The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage)
The Divorce Trap
Michele goes on in her book with a letter written by a woman named Joan. Joan is someone who fell into that trap, only to later regret it. She writes:
I was married for 18 years and we have three terrific children. I instigated a divorce. It was final six months ago. Now, I am having second thoughts.
I never imagined that I would feel this way because, for years, I was so miserable in my marriage. I thought that once I got out, we all would be better off. At first, it was a relief to get away from all the arguing. However, I could not anticipate how quickly the feelings of relief would turn to pain. The look on my children’s faces when they talk to their dad on the phone or when they come back from weekend visits has been more than I can bear.
What surprises me the most though is the fact that I find myself thinking about my ex all the time. He is far from perfect. But I now realize I could have made more of an effort to learn how to deal with the things that irritated or hurt me. Now I am haunted by the fact that my divorce destroyed not only a marriage but a family.”
The following is a link to another letter, written by a man who is divorced. He has also lived to deeply regret the pain it has brought with it. This letter is posted on the Smart Marriages web site. And although it’s not a Christian ministry it’s a very good organization that we recommend highly. We need to warn you that there are several profane words in the article. But the message of the rest of the article is outstanding! It’s well worth reading. To read the article in its entirety, please click onto:
• WHEN A FAMILY MAN THINKS TWICE
Slowing Down and Thinking Twice
And then here’s something written by Dr Bob Burpee, in an article titled, “Slowing Down in a Crisis.” He wrote the following concerning stepping back, thinking and praying again, concerning this issue:
“What is the benefit of slowing down in crisis? If we are pulled by such strong forces to resolve a crisis quickly what is the point of waiting? Maybe the most compelling reason to learn the value of slowing down in a crisis is looking at the factors determining our actions. When I am reacting and in a rush I am controlled by my fears. When I find a way to slow my reactions I can choose based on who I want to be and am working to become. This allows me to select options and strategies based on integrity not my base fears and appetites.
“Do I really want my life defined by the fearful assumptions? Or, do I want to give myself a chance for something different based on what I believe could be possible even if I am the only one valuing a change?
“Most of us, if we are really honest, admire people who modeled this pause, and reasonable approach to addressing crisis in their life. They had every reason to react in a human way but instead displayed restraint. They took steps that led to opportunity for hope as opposed to the destruction their understandable reactions might have created.”
Learning From Others
In light of all that has been expressed here, there is another article I encourage you to read. Sometimes voices of experience can teach us things we never would have realized. They can prevent us from making the same mistakes. Please read:
• WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN BEFORE I GOT DIVORCED
And then lastly, I want to leave you with something important to consider, on the issue of slowing down and thinking twice about divorce. Maggie Gallagher writes something interesting in her book, ‘The Case for Marriage’ that is worth noting. She says that:
“In a broad survey of self-described, very unhappy marriages, five years later, fully 86 percent of couples who stuck it out described their marriages as ‘happier’ with most saying they were now ‘very happy.’ Many of these couples received no counseling.” (Quote by Betsy Hart)
That should give you room to pause, pray, and slow things down. These are some thoughts that I hope you will prayerfully consider concerning ending your marital relationship.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
If you have any additional thoughts you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Separation and Divorce
29 responses to “Slowing Down and Thinking Twice About Divorce”
(SACRAMENTO) What do I do? I’m so tired. I’m with a man that is married. But they’re separated. We’ve have been together for almost 3 yrs and I recently had a baby with him 5 weeks ago. I really feel that he won’t ever let that other women his wife
go. They were together 18 yrs and they separated. I was with my kid’s father for 11 yrs and he past away. That’s how we ended up together and we both say if it wasn’t, you and I wouldn’t be with anyone.
I want us to be so close. I’m in love and love this man but I often feel like I’m just there like an outcast. Here is a good example. Last night I took our new baby and my other children to his house and here comes his kids and wife. They come over and after a few mins of being there he says to his wife, come outside; I need to talk to you. And they sit in her car for almost an hour talking while I’m in the house with all the kids…
I was so shaky and upset. I just wounder what is so important to have to do that. It made me feel so small. I really don’t feel like when they talk it is all about the kids… I feel like I just set myself up for failure. I’m not the type of person to give up on someone. But I just don’t think I’m secure enough for this…
I really don’t know what to do, especially now that I brought a baby into all this… I feel emotionally drained and he acts
like it’s nothing –that he’s not doing anything wrong… Like I have no reason to be upset… it’s so frustrating. He’s right… This is what I get for messing with someone who is still married. She’s never going anywhere. I feel they have too much history together. It’s depressing for me after everything I’ve already been through.
Kim, I think you already answered your own question as far as what to do. This man is married and even though you had a baby together, he has soul ties to his wife and children that go beyond his relationship with you.
Even though someone is separated when you meet him, that doesn’t make him available in every way to be free to have this type of relationship with someone else. YOU need to put up boundaries, even if the man doesn’t. Please better guard your heart the next time and stay away from those who are tied to someone else. It’s heart-breaking on many levels. I pray for you.
Kim, God’s grace is sufficient in your weakness. He loves you regardless of what’s happened and I really felt led to share that with you. Yes, it’s against God’s will to be involved with someone who is married but it’s no greater than any other sin, which is forgiveable and redeemable by a merciful, loving Father. God is waiting to embrace you and walk this difficult journey with you if you just surrender to Him.
I also felt led to remind you that your baby is a blessing from the Lord and He has great plans for him/her. My prayer for you is to focus on taking care of him/her and your other children and allowing God to fill those voids that the man you’ve been involved with can’t fill. I agree with Cindy that boundaries are important with your baby’s father as he is still married and appears to want to remain with his wife. Also he has just as much responsibility for the relationship as you do and will be accountable to God for it. I’m not sure how to advise you regarding him being your baby’s father except pray, pray, pray and surrender the situation to God so He can direct your steps. I will pray regularly for you and hope you post an update to see how things are going (your baby is over one year old now that I’m looking at the date you posted… I’ll still pray.)
(CANADA) My husband of 24 years left me almost a month ago. We didn’t have a perfect marriage but we were great friends, partners, etc. The past two years had been getting better and better until about 6-8 weeks ago. He came home from a trip totally detached. I asked if we could talk and he said not right now but I do need space. So I gave that to him. Then he told me he was leaving, that he was REALLY unhappy, this was just something he had to do, it would make him a better person, he wanted to be free, not have responsibilities or to have to consider anyone else but himself (yes he said that!).
He didn’t say this was a trial separation, he didn’t say we were divorcing, he also didn’t say he would come back. He is starting a new career with some guys he met about 4 months ago (single guys, very ego driven people). When he left he was very kind to me, telling me he loved me, that we would always be friends no matter what, we have a bond because of our child, etc. Well, I heard from him the first week he was gone, nothing since. I’ve emailed him 2x, no response. He’s only spoken to our child once in a month.
I am very confused, hurt, angry, and disappointed. I’m not sure what to do. If he asks to come back, should I do it, with clear boundaries? Should I just get on with my life (I know I have to either way)? I really don’t know what to think. I have no idea if he’s now seeing someone else or what (he said there was no one else before he left). Part of me never wants to see him again and the other part of me wants him back! My heart says yes, my head say no. Plus, my family keeps telling me to never get back with him. They don’t seem to understand how I feel. They just see him as extremely selfish and emotionally abusive, always putting himself first.
I want to try again, and to create a wonderful marriage. I know that will be work but I’ve always wanted that. It doesn’t seem like he wants to at all. I don’t know if he’s just taking his time, getting perspective or just wants a whole NEW life, a single life. I look at it like we made a commitment. He has broken that and walked away from a wonderful family. Our child is very angry but at the same time he wants his family back, minus the unhappiness.
I feel you Susan! Similar things are happening in my marriage. I’ve been married almost 9 yrs. We are a 30 yr old couple with 3 kids. Our marriage has not been easy at all and we have gone through big trials. To make it short he also is distant after he came from a trip of 4 days and I found out that he had Instagram and Facebook again when we were compromising not to have it both sides! He lied and he’d rather jeopardized our marriage than saving it!
He seems not to care and he said he is emotional detaching from me! He said he doesn’t have any one else but he is tired of fighting and arguing! He wants to do whatever he wants and be free. I ask him he can have the media but he has to give me his passwords. He said no because I’m a jealous women and he won’t deal with that! I put up with domestic violence, emotional infidelity! I love him and I don’t want a divorce but it seems impossible.
I’m praying for a change or to ask God for healing if this is it. He is against divorce and I don’t want to break this covenant but he is just letting it go because of his desires he want in life right now instead of family! I’m heart broken! So Ifeel what you’re going through. I guess all we have to do is pray for an answer and let God guide us and pray for our partner.
Thank you all for listening. I have been with my wife for 28 years, married for 21. My wife is the love of my life and she wants a divorce. We are separated and she says she won’t reconcile at all! We have had many challenges in our marriage and at times I didn’t say the best things to her, and she feels as if she has been verbally abused. I accept responsibility for my actions, words, and behavior, but she doesn’t recognize hers at all!! How do I deal with this separation and help her heart heal towards me?
I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I’m so full of anger and having a difficult time finding forgiveness. I have love in my heart most of the time. Then it turns cold. I’ve been married almost 2 years now. I thought it would mostly good days, some learning days, sad, and joy. He’s addicted to porn. I had a precious little baby a year ago. He came clean about the porn. I was so grateful and loving. Then he started saying he wanted a divorce almost weekly. I told him it was okay and I will stand by as he fights this. I felt pain, but was grateful to get it out of the way.
He then left us. She was only 2 months old. Took out the direct deposit that day and was so angry. I panicked, a sobbed, I begged. He came back that day after spending time with his buddy venting. I was so hurt. I didn’t understand. Since then he is in therapy, gave up porn, but problems still linger. I’ll have flash backs of that time and it feels like hate. Its been almost a year since that day. It’s still so difficult. He’s still getting his “fix” scanning for women the moment we step out of the door. It’s so devastating to me. I want him to leave. I beg him now almost daily to leave. He will not. He said because he loves me. I don’t feel that.
He does “try” not to scan, but it’s so instant. So second nature. He’s always done that but seems to have increased without porn. I’m upset with him now everyday. I know I’m not handling things well. My heart seems to have lost understanding and forgiveness. I’m convinced he doesn’t feel. I’m to embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. I’m really just hoping to move through this with the help of an inspiring voice. I pray “occasionally.” My cold heart seems to be getting in the way.
HI. My husband left to live with another woman and they now have a child. The affair began in 2010 and I tried to stay on until he threw me out and I took our 3 kids with me in 2012. That was also the year she had their baby. It’s now almost 3 years of separation. Should I still wait?
Dear KayK, I’m so sorry to read of your husband’s unfaithfulness. This has to be so very painful for you, especially because of the 3 kids you have together. My heart goes out to you —truly. I will never understand how a spouse can justify this type of behavior. It is so very wrong, and so very hurtful. I cry for you and your children.
As for whether or not you should wait for your husband to hopefully, prayerfully return to his senses, and come back to you and your children, and to God (because God especially hates unfaithfulness), all I can do is encourage you to ask God what HE thinks… whether or not you should wait. He knows, we don’t. I know that seems like a simplistic answer, and truly that is not what I want to give you, but I know it is the right one.
I guess part of your answer to this is whether or not your husband has filed for divorce. If he hasn’t, perhaps there is a reason. I can’t tell you what to do, but I do encourage you not to do the filing –no matter how much pressure he puts upon you, and no matter how tempted you are to do so. If he wants to end this marriage completely, let it be on his head, not yours, to initiate and carry out the divorce.
If for no other reason than this one, you have 3 children that are looking at both of you as to the vows you made on your wedding day –the ones you were to especially keep when you had each of them. Your husband obviously has violated those vows. If you stay true, despite your husband’s unfaithfulness (please don’t date… this is destructive on so many levels), you will be telling your children that you are a promise-keeper. Hopefully, it will inspire them to grow up to be promise keepers too. They need at least one parent to set them a good example.
I can’t tell you whether or not to wait for your husband. No human being should do that (as humans, we have our own biased stuff that gets in the way of directing people on this type of issue). God alone is the only one you should look to, in answer to that question.
But whatever you do, please don’t pray with an agenda —looking for the answer you have decided you want. If you do that, you won’t hear God in a pure way; it will be tainted. The Lord knows the beginning from the end, and He knows whether or not your husband will ever respond to His and your pleas, and whether or not your husband will repent and turn his life around —turning his heart toward home, Him, and you and your children, as he should.
Also, don’t limit God working, as far as time goes. I’ve seen unbelievable miracles that have happened years later, when all seemed lost. Patiently pray and eventually, as you really tune your ears and heart to Him, He will let you know if you are to keep persevering and waiting, rather than going in a direction that seems right to us, but may or may not be right, from God’s perspective. His silence is not a yes or a no… it’s a “not now” type of answer. Wait until you hear clearly.
I hope and pray for you that you will, and that you will know, beyond a shadow of doubt that God has given you the answer you truly need, not one that people, including myself, will give in our biased ways.